Vincent van ‘t Riet: NL Kansspel – Dutch Gaming Authority tightens enforcement measures

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Vincent van ‘t Riet

Vincent van ‘t Riet Co-Founder of Dutch gambling consultancy NL Kansspel (NL Gambling), breaks down the latest update of KSA provisions as the Netherlands heads towards a strict online gambling industry framework. van ‘t Riet details how international operators should best prepare for stricter demands by the KSA…

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The Dutch Gaming Authority (KSA) has recently announced stricter measures against illegal online gambling operators active within the Dutch market space. KSA has warned illegal operators that it will hand out fines without warning. Previously the KSA sent out warning letters to gambling operators that crossed the line. The Dutch gambling watchdog also wants non-licensed online gaming providers to install a mechanism that blocks their website (IP block) for the Dutch consumer.

It seems KSA has clearly put everyone at an edge with these additional enforcement measures. Especially with the forthcoming – and long-awaited – online legislation around the corner. Drafting prioritisation criteria (no .nl extension, no marketing and no Dutch language on websites) was the first step by KSA to kerb the illicit supply. Last month this was followed up by a ban on gambling apps in the app stores. KSA is now pressing further ahead with these new measures. The key question is: how much risk are the non-license holders with the focus on The Netherlands going to take with the new online legislation quite imminent?

“Focus on the Dutch market”

The press release in which the KSA announced the tightening of enforcement measures speaks repeatedly of the term “target the Dutch market”. This crucial phrase is not specified in the statement. It may simply be a reference to the prioritisation criteria (no marketing) but it can also indicate towards more specific matters.  Such as, for example:

Marketing to Dutch players

  • Referrals on Dutch affiliate websites
  • .com gaming websites that turn into Dutch gambling websites after login
  • Specific references in email marketing for downloading the gambling app
  • Bonus offerings

Dutch communication with online players

  • Dutch speaking customer service
  • Communication in Dutch language with players through email or sms
  • Dutch speaking dealers in the live casino environment

Integration of Dutch institutions

  • IDEAL payments
  • Referrals to Dutch addiction clinics

When the KSA issued a fine against illegal operator Redslots.com in November of last year the released verdict made very clear that the Gambling Authority takes some of the above examples at heart in its final decision. Redslots.com was found to be in breach with several specific “aims at the Dutch market”, such as IDEAL payments, Dutch language on the website and bonus offerings in Dutch.

The interpretation on “focus on the Dutch market” can therefore have a major impact on the gambling operators without a Dutch license. In 2011 a motion put forward by MP Bouwmeester was adopted by a majority in the Tweede Kamer (House of Commons). The motion “Bouwmeester” states: “the government should accomplish that illegally operating gambling operators should not obtain a future online gambling license”.

KSA seems sensitive to follow this directive. Two weeks ago the KSA started a transparent tender process for the new horse racing tote license. As a provision the KSA indicated that gambling providers, which have operated in the Dutch market without a license, are barred from entering the tender process. Whether the Gambling Authority will use the same provision within the upcoming online legislation process is anybody’s guess. But whatever way you look at it the word tightrope comes to mind.

KSA has given online providers without a Dutch license until January 1 2017 to make the necessary adjustments and advises non-licensed gambling operators to set an IP block within their online environment. No doubt to be continued early in the new year

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Vincent van ‘t Riet – NL Kansspel

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